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May 11, 1984 - Image 10

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1984-05-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Pair of shows
not up to par

Bobby "Blue" Bland, a smoking hot blues guitarist is coming to the
Michigan Theater in a show that also features Albert "the king of the blues"
Two of a kind bluos
reatsrea dy to deal

By Mike Fisch
A LOT of good things come in twos -
Abbott and Costello, Simon and
Garfunkel, Rogers and Hammerstein.
Like they say, three's a crowd. Well, as
it happens Saturday night at the
Michigan Theatre two's gonna draw a
crowd. Ann Arbor couldn't ask for a
better pair of blues musicians than
Bobby "Blue" Bland (Don't let thetlast
name fool you) and Albert King. Blues,
despite its decline in the past few years,
is back, roaring and ready and King
and Blandare in large part responsible
for the upswing.
Bland draws the listener in like a fine
storyteller, using nothing more than his
guiter and voice to do it. His songs
called urban blues are about bad times,
and frustration, but also change, and
looking forward to the good times.
Sometimes today, one listens to pop
music and wonders, "Is there
somebody behind the synthesizer,
behind the computerized drumbeat?"
Bobby Bland won't leave you won-

dering. His whining guitar, and growls
will more than let you know that there's
a person on stage, with real emotions.
Bland got his start with the Beale
Streeters which included such stars as
B.B. King, Johnny Ace, and Little
Junior Parker. He recorded his first
solo effort in 1950, a tune called "Living
Blues" after which he spent three and a
half years in the service. After the war,
Bland resumed his career with a string
of hits that helped him to become a
major force in blues.
Even if you haven't heard of Albert
King, you have heard him. King's
guitar licks can be heard emanating
from the music of countless rock and
blues musicians. Eric Clapton covered
King's "Born under a Bad Sign" early
in his Cream days. King's distinctive
style is built around bending notes on
the guitar, or "squeezing the strings"
as bluesmen might say.
By many, King is considered the king
of blues, and the most influential
bluesman of the past two decades.
Ann Arbor's got Albert King and
Bobby "Blue" Bland together - a
chance like this doesn't present itself
too often. Don't miss the show.

By Larry Dean
THE CHIP BILL Nelson balanced on
his shoulder was big enough to be
seen at the back of St. Andrews Hall. It
was so big, as a matter of fact, that it
overshadowed the music, and made his
guitar playing a painful thing. Half of
the time he and his five bandmates
spent wrenching notes out of their
various synthetic instruments, I found
myself wishing that someone ballsy
enough would hop up on stage and
knock the damned chip off Nelson's
shoulder. No one did.
Of course, I was one of those no ones. I
could have knocked that chip off. There
was little to no security on hand
hecause there was little to no crowd on
hand. The whole thing reminded me of
a particularly gruelling church picnic,
with Nelson as the unfortunate icon,
roasting marshmallows disdainfully as
his patient subjects waited for the
The problem with Bill Nelson's
newest tunes - as was evidenced at St.
Andrews - is that they all tend to sound
alike. A little flip o' the switch, and on
goes the devo drums; a wash of syn-
thesizers envelopes all; more syn-
drums overlay; and finally, the
majestic guitar of Bill Nelson is added
to the cacaphonous fray, making the
ubiquitous, dance-oriented com-
On record, Nelson has always been a
wonder. However, he has professed a
distaste for playing "old" songs live,
and that distaste surfaced in his Detroit
Most of the tunes he played last
Tuesday night were three and four
years old. Although Vistamix, his latest
American release, is fairly new to
record stores, the songs are all culled
from past European LPs. So as Bill
serenaded us, he did so with teeth agrit,
and chip wobbling.
Nelson's band was adept, but the
members lacked any real personality.
After the show was over, he came out
for an encore that began as an im-
provisational, controlled "jam" bet-

ween himself, his drummer, and the
horn player, but which ended with a
sarcastic, spit-in-your-face guitar solo
wherein Nelson utilized every cliche
under the sun. When he walked of-
fstage, you could feel the tension in the
air like the smell of burnt marsh-
The Violent Femmes opened up their
show Wednesday night by parading in
through the main doors of the Union
Ballroom. Vocalist Gordon Gano and
drummer Victor DeLorenzo played
drums as they marched in, and Brian
Ritchie and special "fourth Femme"
Stephen Kay (a Michigan native)
played horns. The music was a weird
mix of John Phillip Sousa, bluegrass,
and gospel, which set the mood for the
Here, preceeding their newest long-
player, Hallowed Ground, by almost a
week, the Femmes played a handful of
new tunes and by-now standards to the
adoring all-ages crowd. .
The problems with Wednesday's
show weren't totally the fault of the
band. For one thing, the stage was so
low that a lot of "paying customers"
couldn't see through the teeming throng
of avid fans. Add to that the fact that
the tallest Major Events security guard
was placed strategically at the front of
the stage, and you have a nifty
monopoly on who gets to see - "fhe
survival of the tallest," if you will.
One thing that makes the Violent
Femmes so appealing, I think, is their
versatility. The new songs they
previewed Wednesday night were much
more blues and gospel based than the
teen-o-rama folksongs on their debut
album of last year.
However, the energy level they
displayed was very up and down. When
it came time for encores, for example,
they juxtaposed an intense "Add It Up"
with a lame "Gone Daddy Gone."
Maybe they were getting tired, or
maybe they were disappointed at the
poor ballroom acoustics, but in the end,
as they marched out, in the same
fashion that they came in, I was left
feeling that the best from the Violent
Femmes is yet tocome.

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